BROOKLYN, NY – The United States Ambassador to Barbados and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), Linda Taglialatela, says the deployment of the US Naval hospital ship, USNS COMFORT, underscores Washington’s desire to honor its support for people of the western hemisphere.
“The United States is a friend, partner, and trustworthy neighbor to the Caribbean and the USNS COMFORT’s return to the region is a reflection of our partnership. This is a collaborative effort,” she said while explaining that of the USNS COMFORT’s medical teams will work alongside local medical professionals in providing care on board and at land-based medical sites.
“We are committed to increasing regional collaboration and partner nation capacity to provide medical assistance and disaster relief – a high priority for the Eastern Caribbean,” she said.
The ship is on a five-month multinational medical assistance mission and at its completion will have made 14 port calls in 12 countries throughout South and Central America and the Caribbean including Grenada, St. Lucia, and St. Kitts-Nevis.
“Our cooperation in disaster preparedness and resilience is at the forefront. However, economic development, security, and other issues will occupy much of my time here as well,” she said while reminding that the traditional hurricane season has started and a number of Caribbean countries have already been impacted.
The US diplomat will be among officials who will be welcoming the USNS Comfort when it berths in Grenada on September 15 on a five-day visit. It will also journey to St. Lucia and St. Kitts- Nevis from September 25-30 and October 5-10 respectively.
“Beside representatives from the government of Grenada, I look forward to welcoming the USNS COMFORT to Grenada personally on September 15 and to the services they will provide to citizens of Grenada in the week that follows,” said the Ambassador, who is here meeting with US citizens.
The diplomat also defended Washington’s aid packages to the region since Donald Trump became president in 2016, saying “since 2010, the U.S. Congress has appropriated nearly US$617 million for the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI), a shared security partnership with the Caribbean that support efforts to reduce illicit trafficking, increase citizen security, and promote crime prevention.
“To date, US financial assistance supported initiatives focused on security, diplomacy, open trade, prosperity, energy, education, natural disaster preparation and resilience, youth empowerment, and health,” she added.